Talented defenceman from Collingwood is a freshman student at Western
By Pat Payton
St. Marys Lincolns’ GM Greg Smale and head coach Trent McClement agree that Eric Lalonde can be one of the best defencemen in the Western Conference this season.
He appears to have all the tools. The talented right-shooting blueliner is a strong skater and puck-handler, and also brings a physical presence at 6 ft., 2 inches and 195 lbs.
When Smale heard the 20-year-old defenceman was moving to the area to attend Western University, the GM quickly contacted the Collingwood native and convinced him to join the Lincs.
“I truly believe Eric could be one of the top ‘D’ men in our conference, if not in our league (the GOJHL),” Smale told the Independent in a recent interview. “He’s so good defensively; he plays so well in his own zone.
‘I also think his offensive game will improve here. He wasn’t relied on too much in Collingwood as an offensive player. But with us, he’s going to be a good two-way player. He has the ability to run a powerplay, and the ability to shut guys down. He’s a big body who moves the puck well and sees the ice well.
“He’s also a good teammate and a good leader. He was a good leader in Jr. ‘A’ and he’s an excellent leader here, so we’re really excited to have him.”
Phone call leads to St. Marys
With Lalonde coming to Western to study business this year, he admits that his top priority wasn’t hockey. But that all changed when Smale contacted him in the summer.
“At first, I wasn’t planning on playing hockey, I was going to stick to school and study hard,” he told the Independent. “But then Greg called me and offered me a spot here in St. Marys. I love hockey so much that I just couldn’t turn down his offer.
“Now, I’m planning to try out for the Western (Mustangs varsity) team next year. I’m hoping I can land a spot with them.”
Two years ago (2019-20), Lalonde played Tier II Jr. ‘A’ with Collingwood of the OJHL. Prior to that, he played for the Grey-Bruce Highlanders and the Stayner Jr. ‘C’ Siskins. Following his season (2016-17) with the Highlanders U16 ‘AAA’ team, he was drafted in the fourth round, 75th overall, by the OHL’s Oshawa Generals. He attended the Gens’ rookie camp and main camp in the fall of 2017.
Lalonde played for Stayner in 2017-18, then missed the entire 2018-19 season with concussion symptoms.
Lalonde says he’s enjoyed his time with the Lincolns.
“I love the home-town vibe here,” he said. “Collingwood has a home-town vibe as well, but I think St. Marys is a more well-rounded community. You go out in the community, and people are buying us Tim Hortons and stuff like that.
“On the ice, I’m going to keep working hard.”
Coach McClement has also been impressed with Lalonde.
“Offensively, he’s gifted,” he said. “He’s a great passer and a smooth skater. I think he has all the potential in the world to be the best defenceman in this conference.”
–Lalonde is one of four 20-year-olds on the Lincs’ defence this season. Max Mulder, Thomas Munro and Myles Baker are the others.
–His favourite NHL team is the Toronto Maple Leafs.